Lots going on this week with trucks and truck drivers, starting with the ongoing protest of government-mandates – including the vaccine mandate for all drivers coming into and leaving Canada – that affect truckers in Canada and continuing with the severe and continuing shortage of drivers in this country.
The protest in Canada began three weeks ago in January with the Freedom Convoy starting in western provinces and moving east to the capitol city of Ottawa. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who declined to meet with the truckers and left Ottawa for a time, on Feb. 14 invoked the Emergencies Act to put down the protest which includes trucks blocking border crossings between Canada and the United States. This is the first time the Act has been used, although a similar measure was used by Trudeau’s father, former Premier Pierre Trudeau, in 1970.
Under the Emergencies Act, the Canadian government could halt travel to or from specified areas, order evacuations of people and property from areas, and also clear areas of protestors, calling on the military the government deems it necessary. Seizure of crowd-funding monies and criminal charges against contributors to those crowd-funding operations have also been discussed by media.
The most notable blockade, that of the Ambassador Bridge, lasted a week and stopped all traffic between Detroit, MI, and Windsor, Ontario. It also resulted in the closure of auto manufacturing plants that could not receive needed parts, was cleared earlier this week. However, protests continue in Ottawa and other cities and border crossings.
The situation remains fluid, and similar protests and convoys have been reported in Europe. Plans for a convoy in the United States have been reported, with a March start on the West Coast said to be in the works.
In the meantime, this nation is facing a shortage of truck drivers that is nearing the 100,000 mark.
In a story published Feb. 11 at https://news.123hindinews.com/u-s-trucker-shortage-worsens-the-western-producer-trending-news/?amp by news_crvxt5 asserts that the ongoing shortage of truck drivers in the United States, which is estimated to be some 80,000 now, has been exacerbated by vaccine mandates in this country and neighboring Canada.
Jon Eisen of American Trucking Associations talked at a recent Washington, D.C., panel discussion of the supply chain and was quoted as saying, “There’s no question that the vaccine mandates between the United States and Canada right now are creating difficulty.”
The number of truckers has been dwindling the U.S.,” and it said that number increased to the present 80,000 shortfall during the pandemic.
Eisen was also quoted as saying, “The challenges we’re facing aren’t exactly new.”
The story continued, “The issues stretch past the variety of truck drivers. Many warehouses are short-staffed attributable to COVID-19 employee absences, so truckers usually should wait longer when loading or unloading. That additional reduces the efficient driver pool.”
Eisen said, “Workforce issues are critical when you’re taking individuals out of the workforce.”
And, the story added, “The present border concern compounds the present issues bedevilling nearly all U.S. industrial items transport. About 74 percent of home U.S. freight is moved by truck, the ATA says.”
Eisen commented, “Reducing trade is not something we’re in favour of.”
A New York Times piece published Feb. 9 at https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/09/business/truck-driver-shortage.html also looked at the trucker shortage, and while this story did not reference either the vaccine or mandates, it did provide an insightful overview of the supply chain and how the present situation unfolded.
The story said the problem was created by the pandemic, and the “highly intricate and interconnected global supply chain is in upheaval” due to the slowdown of the economy and production halt.
First came a shipping reduction. The story said that with the slowdown in goods being produced resulted in less spending at the start of the pandemic, manufacturers and shippers expected demand to drop significantly. However, demand for some items increased considerably, particularly for protective gear such as surgical masks and gowns – most made in China. As China increased production, cargo ships delivered the items worldwide.
But a shipping container shortage resulted in China be adversely affected, and demand continued to grow for durable goods. Shipping costs increased as goods continued to arrive in the U.S., with the Times noting the cost of shipping a container from Shanghai to Los Angeles increased tenfold.
In the meantime, labor shortages hit business coast to coast, and that shortage included truck drivers. The story said, “Even as employers resorted to lifting wages, labor shortages persisted, worsening the scarcity of goods.”
Shortage of goods included components, and a lack of computer chips caused carmakers to slow down or stop production. Manufacturing medical devices were also delayed.
One result was that consumers and businesses alike began ordering “earlier and extra,” the Times said. And that resulted in additional strain on the already beleaguered system.
And the net effect was a major factor on the increasing inflation.
Now, as 2022 moves from midwinter to early spring, companies are upping their game in labor recruitment. Walmart, as one major example, has ramped up its hiring efforts for truck drivers, with substantial incentives and a notable lack of vaccine requirements. At https://careers.walmart.com/drivers-distribution-centers/drivers the list of requirements for prospective drivers reads:
“What You’ll Need
- An Interstate (Class A) Commercial Driver’s License with Hazmat endorsement (including cleared background check) or will obtain HAZMAT endorsement (with cleared background check) within 120 calendar days of date of hire.
- A minimum of 30 months experience working in a full-time Class A tractor/trailer driving position in the previous 4 years.
- No more than two (2) moving violations while operating a personal or commercial motor vehicle in the last three (3) years.
- No serious traffic violations while operating a commercial motor vehicle in the last three (3) years.
- No DUI, DWI, OUI, or reckless driving involving alcohol/drugs convictions within the last ten (10) years.
- No preventable accidents* while operating a commercial motor vehicle in the last three (3) years.
- No preventable* DOT recordable accidents (collisions resulting in disabling damage and/or immediate medical treatment away from the scene) while operating a commercial motor vehicle in the last ten (10) years.
- No preventable accidents* resulting in a fatality or catastrophic injury in driving history (commercial motor vehicle).”
Benefits, starting the first day, include:
- Earn PTO immediately—up to 21 days in your first year
- 401K, medical, and dental
- Company paid life insurance and short-term disability
- Up to four paid safety days a year
Not surprisingly given the nationwide shortage, Walmart’s list of openings shows there are positions available across the country.